April 13 marked the 10th birthday of Hainan Special Economic Zone, the country's largest.
Prior to upgrading as a province and designation as a special economic zone, this southern island had a low economic development level marked by a unitary structure, weak foundations and a serious shortage of basic infrastructure.
Since then, however, it has entered a new stage of development, achieving noticeable results in economic construction.
In 1993, the provincial Party committee and government set out the principles for local economic development, taking agriculture as the foundation to promote primary industry, accelerating development of secondary industry with priority to the manufacturing sector, and actively expanding tertiary industry focusing on tourism. The goal is to turn the island into a newly emerging powerful industrial province, a high-efficient tropical agricultural base, and an attractive holiday resort.
The principles, relying on local resource advantages, have laid a solid foundation for the province's long-term economic prosperity.
Newly Emerging Industries
The province's industry developed from a fairly low starting point. In 1987, agriculture still dominated, and the industrial level lagged far behind other places.
Since 1988, however, the province has intensified efforts to tap rich natural resources, including oil, natural gas, tropical fauna and flora, marine products and minerals, while striving to attract foreign capital and expand investment in industry and infrastructure facilities. As a result, total industrial output value soared from 3.66 billion yuan in 1988 to 18 billion yuan in 1997. Meanwhile, the added-value of the industrial sector rose from 1.49 billion yuan in 1991 to 5.2 billion yuan in 1997.
Traffic Map of Hainan Province
Roadside billboard in Haikou City promotes a famous coconut beverage(LIN LIANGQI)
To improve and optimize its industrial structure, the province has established a batch of large and medium-sized backbone enterprises engaged in the production of large-granulated urea, polyester chips, adhesive-bonded fabrics, medicine, motorcycles and automobiles, tin-plated and cold-rolled steel sheets and cement. These have become its main source of added value.
The food processing, beverage, building materials and other traditional industries continue to maintain competitiveness through technological renovation, product mix readjustment and expansion of production.
To date, food and beverage processing, transport equipment, textile industry centered on chemical fiber production, and oil and natural gas processing focusing on chemical fertilizer production have become pillar industries.
Meanwhile, reform of state-owned enterprises has intensified through introduction of the joint-stock system, merging, bankruptcy, asset transfer, commission management and other forms.
These various efforts over the past decade have produced a fledgling industrial province.
A natural gas-chemical fertilizer plant, part of Hainan's pillar industry(HAI XIN)
Promising Tropical Agriculture
As China's largest tropical treasure island, Hainan abounds in luminous and heat energy and water resources. Its distinctive tropical climate makes it a natural greenhouse for agricultural development.
Since 1988, profound changes have taken place in the agricultural sector: the rural socialist market economy has developed; farmers' living standards have significantly improved; the rural industrial structure has been optimized; and the process of industrialization has been expedited. Toward the end of the Eighth Five-Year Plan (1991-95) period, Hainan had become one of the localities registering the fastest agricultural growth rate.
During the Eighth Five-Year Plan period, the sector began transformation from a unitary traditional type focusing on grain and sugarcane production to one featuring diversified development of farming, forestry, animal husbandry and fisheries, with equal importance placed on production, supply and marketing.
Highly efficient tropical agriculture, represented by vegetables. fruits, rubber, coconut, pepper, lemongrass, coffee, betel palm. cashew and other tropical crops. has developed rapidly, helping fundamentally change the mode of traditional farming.
Between 1991-95, the province registered a two-digit increase in agricultural production every year. In 1997, local grain output reached 2.2 million tons, up 6.1 percent over the previous year and an all-time high. The production of slack-season vegetables and fruits has increased considerably, with output reaching 2.11 million tons in 1997. a rise of 10 percent on 1996. The province's value-added of agriculture jumped to 15.9 billion yuan in 1997, compared to 2.87 billion yuan a decade before.
Motorcycle holidays are popular with the young(UN LIANGQI)
With delightful weather all year round, clear sea water, charming bays and fine sand beaches, as well as criss-crossing rivers, tranquil lakes, extensive forests inhabited by rare animals and birds, and unique folklore, Hainan is an ideal tourist resort, integrating natural scenery with cultural relics, ethnic customs and valuable animal and plant species.
Large-scale infrastructure construction since 1988 has significantly improved the province's transport, telecommunications, energy supply and public facilities. Rapid progress also has been made in tourism legislation and management to ensure continuous development.
Between 1991-95, the province received 12.83 million domestic and overseas tourists, an average annual increase of 23.38 percent. This included 1.32 million overseas tourists. In the early 1990s, the province only had 39 tourist resorts primarily covered by a single tour itinerary from the provincial capital Haikou to minority areas in Wuzhi Mountains.
By 1995, however, there were more than 80 tourist resorts, featuring many new tourist attractions and products with distinctive local flavors.
In 1997 the province hosted 7.9 million tourists, with designated tourist hotels receiving 5.5 million alone, up 13.2 percent from the previous year. The province's tourism revenue hit 6.1 billion yuan, including US$100 million from overseas tourists, up 17.1 percent.
With the support and participation of all quarters, the province has made much headway in its capacity to receive tourists, develop tourist products, improve service quality and offer special itineraries. The tourism structure also has undergone a fundamental change, from a pure sightseeing type to one combined with holiday resorts.